Vjekoslav Luburić

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Vjekoslav Luburić
Vjekoslav Luburić.jpg
Vjekoslav Luburić in the 1940s
Nickname(s) Maks, General Drinjanin, El Polaco
Born (1914-03-06)6 March 1914
Humac, Ljubuški, Austria-Hungary
Died 20 April 1969(1969-04-20) (aged 55)
Carcaixent, Spain
Allegiance  Independent State of Croatia
Service/branch Ustaše militia
Croatian Armed Forces
Years of service 1929–1945
Rank General
Commands held III Office of the Ustaše Surveillance Service
Ustaše Defence Brigades
Battles/wars World War II in Yugoslavia
Awards Iron Trefoil 1st Class
Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir
Iron Cross 1st Class

Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburić (6 March 1914 – 20 April 1969) was a Croatian Ustaše Militia and Croatian Armed Forces general, and was commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp during World War II. After the war, he led the Crusaders guerrilla force, and Croatian National Resistance, a Croatian diaspora organization.

Early life[edit]

Vjekoslav Luburić was born in the village of Humac, near Ljubuški, on 6 March 1914.[1] to a Catholic family.[2] He was a petty criminal in his youth, and was jailed for vagrancy in September 1929.[3] He attended high school in Mostar, but dropped out in his senior year to work in the Mostar public stock exchange. In 1931, he joined the Ustaše, a Croatian fascist and ultranationalist movement committed to the destruction of Yugoslavia and the establishment of Greater Croatia.[1] On 5 December 1931, the District Court in Mostar sentenced Luburić to five months in prison for embezzlement of funds belonging to the exchange. Some time after this conviction, he was again arrested for embezzlement.[3] In 1932, he left Yugoslavia and went to Budapest, where he spent much of the period between 1932 and 1941.[1]

World War II[edit]

Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Luburić travelled to the newly proclaimed Independent State of Croatia (NDH) on his own initiative, in order to join the Ustaše-led government, and became part of Poglavnik (leader) Ante Pavelić's inner circle.[4] Groups of Ustaše Militia under his direct command were responsible for the first mass atrocities committed against Serbs in the NDH, namely the Gudovac, Veljun and Glina massacres.[5] Luburić was appointed the commanding general for the area of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) around the Drina river, and consequently was sometimes referred to as General Drinjanin (General of the Drina).[6] He was the founder and first commander of the concentration camps in the NDH, and from late 1941 also commanded the Ustaša Defence Brigades, which were part of the Ustaša Surveillance Service. The Defence Brigades were involved in operations against the Chetniks and Partisans, and also ran the concentration camps and engaged in mass terror. It was in this role that Luburić acquired a reputation as the most brutal of all Ustaše commanders.[7]

Luburić with a German officer in the Stara Gradiška concentration camp, June 1942.

Luburić, as the commander-in-chief of all NDH concentration camps, announced the great "efficiency" of his Jasenovac concentration camp at a ceremony on 9 October 1942. He presented gold and silver medals to Pavelić and NDH Minister of the Interior Andrija Artuković because they were the "most efficient soldiers".[8] Pavelić trusted Luburić and personally gave him instructions for the extermination of Serbs.[9]

Besides running the camp, Luburić would come to Jasenovac to participate in executions in person.[10][11] It is estimated that 100,000 people were killed at Jasenovac during World War II.[12][13]

Those who were without papers were interned without trial at the camp, provided they were able to work and had skills that suited the Ustaše's needs. Those who had permits to remain three years were immediately taken to liquidation, [clarification needed] and those who had special permits were dealt with according to what the permits were for. When the coup against Pavelić, known as the Lorković–Vokić plot, was uncovered in 1944, Mladen Lorković and Ante Vokić were arrested and sent to the camp at Lepoglava, where they were tried and sentenced to death on Luburić's orders in May 1945.[14]

In February 1945, Pavelić sent Luburić to Sarajevo with instructions to destroy the resistance movement. The postwar commission on war crimes identified 323 victims of Luburić's reign of terror in Sarajevo. The results of this brutality were witnessed by Landrum Bolling, an American journalist[15]

...who arrived in the city on April 7 after its liberation by Partizan forces. He was shown a room containing bodies "stacked like cordwood on top of one another. We were told these Serbs whom the Ustashs had hanged by barbed wire from lampposts in Sarajevo ... Luburic's brief reign of terror constituted the Ustasha's final gruesome legacy in Sarajevo. As his last sadistic acts were being carried out, Sarajevo's destiny was being decided on the field of battle in the hills around the city."

After World War II[edit]

After the end of the war, following the defeat of the NDH, Luburić led the Crusaders (Križari) paramilitary, which was soon defeated. He escaped to Hungary and later to Spain.[16][verification needed] In 1957, he founded the Croatian National Resistance (Hrvatski narodni odpor, HNO), a radical nationalist and terrorist organization, and led it for two decades, until his death. Luburić was assassinated[how?] by Ilija Stanić on 20 April 1969 in Carcaixent, Spain,[17] after Stanić infiltrated Luburić's organisation. Stanić was Luburić's godson. Stanić claimed (in Globus newspaper as per Jutarnji list, a Zagreb newspaper) he had carried out the deed because Luburić had abandoned Pavelić.[18]

Nada (later Esperanza) Tanić Luburić, Luburić's sister, was married to Dinko Šakić, who succeeded Luburić as commander at Jasenovac.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dizdar 1997, p. 240.
  2. ^ Greble 2011, p. 221.
  3. ^ a b Yugoslav State Commission 2000, p. 59.
  4. ^ Tomasevich (2001), p. 336
  5. ^ Goldstein (2007), pp. 22–24
  6. ^ Hudelist, Darko (2004). "Pact with Norval". Tuđman-biografija (in Croatian). Zagreb: Profil. p. 604. ISBN 953-12-0038-6. 
  7. ^ Tomasevich (2001), p. 422
  8. ^ Dr. Edmund Paris, "Genocide in Satellite Croatia, p. 132
  9. ^ THE MASSACRE IN HISTORY (edited by Mark Levene and Penny Roberts), Berghahn Books (July 1999); ISBN 978-1-57181-934-5, p. 264; Camp personnel members believed, as they testified later, that Luburić had had instructions for extermination of the Serbs from Pavelić himself. Faced with German complaints about Luburić's methods, Pavelić appears to have commented that he was worth more to him than a hundred university professors.
  10. ^ for a single example, see: State-commission, p. 26
  11. ^ ג'ורו שוואץ, "במחנות המוות של יאסנובאץ", קובץ מחקרים כ"ה, יד ושם (Djuro Schwartz, "In the Jasenovac camp of death" in Yad Vashem Studies 25 (1996) pages 383–430). p. 322, 328
  12. ^ Official website of the Jasenovac Memorial Site
  13. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  14. ^ Lord of the Dance Macabre, by Cali Ruchala, Diacritica Press Chicago, Illinois, 2002, p. 75
  15. ^ Sarajevo: A Biography, by Robert J. Donia, University of Michigan Press (16 May 2006); ISBN 978-0-472-11557-0 Pages 196–7
  16. ^ Ruchala, p. 76
  17. ^ Guldescu, Stanko, Prcela, John: "Operation Slaughterhouse", p. 71. Dorracne and company, 1970.
  18. ^ Portal Jutarnji.hr (15 July 2009). "Ilija Stanić: Ubili smo Luburića jer se razišao s Pavelićem". Retrieved 15 May 2013.